If in joy you need a tutorial
I suggest the Baltimore Oriole.
April he journeys by night
North from south of the Gulf,
A grueling ordeal by flight
To prove he is worthy of heirs;
And the bird who calls at my door,
Once crossing the Gulf under stars,
Follows the Atlantic shelf
Across six states or more
Without falling fatally weary,
And then by early in May
Reaches and crosses Lake Erie,
Riding a wind on its tail
To find—and how can this be?—
Some thousands of miles away
The Michigan cottonwood tree
He's reached for years without fail,
And where again he will nest
With his mate a few weeks behind
On her impossible quest:
That tree of all trees she will find.
Then his first day here has broken
And he's already up and about
Before most others have woken—
Before we locals are able,
And his whistle is calling us out
From our porchside silver maple:
Wake up! I'm here! Wake up—I'm back!
That whistle, so bright and clear,
Is brought on by a joy attack.
It's the Maytime anthem of cheer.
Then he whistles across the day
Like a soul whose work is play.
And yet how seldom he's seen
Way up in the maples and willows,
Where for caterpillars he'll glean
The spring's first small-leafed billows.
The topmost branches he'll wander
While whistling all the fonder,
And now and then in solar glare
We glimpse his blackbird silhouette
Until the sun is right and—there!
That vision we can't forget:
A breeze is secretly blowing
All of his embers to glowing;
Now all attention is won
By the bird who fell from the sun.
And when he's on the fly
He'll soar as well as sing.
He's laughter to the eye.
He's pumpkin on the wing.
You may spy his one desire
As he rounds from tree to tree,
Though when off without her pair
You may never know it's she,
Light brown with just a flare
Of her partner's orange coal-fire.
Soon she weaves from gathered grass
And even bits of cloth and string
At heights no other birds' surpass
And hanging like a netted cheese
A nest you may see gently swing
Way up among the blowing leaves.
Inside she lays and incubates
Up to six new oriole fates,
And he feeds her through her stay,
Then to and from the hungry nest
To feed their new relations
Both exhaust each summer day.
A thousand minor migrations!
Does an oriole never rest.
The last of June will pass unsung,
Without our wake-up call each morning;
And come July our trees are fled,
Without farewell, without forewarning:
The pair and all their able young
Are tropics-bound between their tarries
To fill on nectar, fruit and berries;
Just two brief months upon this Earth
And by the stars the newly bred
Must soar the nights for all their worth
Along a route they've never flown
To reach a home they've never seen
And then return when one year grown.
Where are their winter haunts, I wonder.
It's somewhere sultry, lush and green,
With boughs of glowing fruit to plunder.
Sometimes I dream it's Macondo.
Yes, to the land of Gabo they go!
That’s where I’d like to think they fly,
To sip from the flowers
That drop at all hours
From the clear Caribbean sky.